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Top 6: Columbus sports stories of 2019

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FILE - In this early Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, file photo, Ohio State coach Ryan Day holds the trophy following the team's 34-21 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten conference championship NCAA college football game in Indianapolis. A year ago, Day was a relatively unknown Ohio State assistant. This December he's reigning Big Ten coach of the year and is eyeing a national title after leading the Buckeyes to a 13-0 record as the successor to the retiring Urban Meyer. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

There were some momentous days on the field, on the ice,and on the pitch in 2019. Sports Director Clay Hall compiled the top six sports stories in Columbus.

6. Blue Jackets lose three prize free agents

Let's begin at number six, and we do it on the ice as the Blue Jackets saw three prize free agents take a walk out of Nationwide Arena.

They are goal-scoring whiz Artemi Panarin who fled to the New York Rangers. At times brilliant goalie Sergei Bobrovsky taking flight to the Florida Panthers, and playmaking Matt Duchene fulfilling a dream to play for the Nashville Predators where he can hone his country music career.

5. Record-breaking pursuit of Buckeye defensive end Chase Young

Coming in at number five, the record-breaking pursuit of Ohio State defensive end Chase Young.

Young so impressed Heisman voters that he was named a finalist for the award that's generally devoid of defensive stars. Just the ninth defensive player to ever be invited to college football's biggest party, Young sacked 16 and a half quarterbacks in 2019. His former Buckeye teammate Joe Burrow took home the Heisman Trophy that night.

Additionally, Chase Young became the first Buckeye to win the Chuck Bednarik Award, which is given to the college defensive player of the year. He also took home the Nagurski Trophy, which is given to the top defensive player in college football by the Football Writers of Associate of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. Young's trophy cabinet expanded when he became the first Buckeye defender to win the Chicago Tribune Silver Football Trophy.

Young was also named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and Defensive Lineman of the Year.

4. Urban Meyer's Rose Bowl victory

In the shadow of the San Gabriel Mountains, the retiring Urban Meyer coached his final game at Ohio State. Meyer capped an incredible run on the field by beating Washington 28-23 on New Year's Day to win the Rose Bowl. The win completed a seven-year tenure of 83 wins and 9 losses.

"I dreamed a lot about Ohio State, the rivalry game, the Rose Bowl," Meyer said. "Seems like every year in the '70s, when I was at that age where everybody is watching it, the parade, the game, and then watching Archie Griffin score touchdowns in the Rose Bowl. ... This has been a bucket-list item for as long as I've been coaching."

To be noted, Meyer was 7-0 against that "team up north."

3. Crew SC stays in Columbus

Number three, the Crew SC will remain in Columbus. Saved by a legion of vocal fans, who rescued Major League Soccer in Central Ohio. New owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam and Pete Edwards said they are excited to be a part of Columbus.

“We think this about soccer. We think this about a team, but it really isn’t,” Edwards said Wednesday as new owners and management were introduced. “It’s about a community. It’s about having pride in our city, and it’s about having pride in our team. All those things roll into the fabric of our community. For us to not have this team here would have left a hole in our city, and my family said that wasn’t acceptable, and we were going to do whatever we could to figure out a way to keep this team.”

The crowning achievement for the original MLS franchise was a sunny day in early October when black and gold enthusiasts gathered in the Arena District to break ground on a new home to be opened in Summer 2021.

2. Blue Jackets sweep NHL's best team in the first round of playoffs

Number two returns to Nationwide Arena where the Blue Jackets enjoyed the finest hour of their existence. The team swept the best team in hockey, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I think we should still have a sour taste in our mouth from last year," said wing Cam Atkinson, who scored the first goal for Columbus in the 5-1 rout of Tampa Bay on April 12, 2019. "It's a series for a reason. They're obviously the best team in the league. We just can't take our foot off the gas pedal."

In fact, it's called the most unlikely first-round upset in the NHL's modern history. It was the Blue Jackets first-ever playoff series win, and they wanted so much more.

The team fell to Boston in the second round.

1. First-year Ohio State head coach Ryan Day

At the top of the list is first-year Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day, a Meyer protege who was identified by Gene Smith and who produced an eye-opening clip as a rookie.

Day has a 13-0 record in his first season, including the University's eighth straight victory over Michigan, and a Big Ten Championship victory over Wisconsin. With the victory over the Badgers, the Buckeyes have won three straight Big Ten Championships.

And Day's trophy cabinet is growing, too. In December 2019, Day was named the 2019 Big Ten Dave McClain Coach of the Year. He's the first Ohio State coach to win the award since 1979.

But Day's Buckeyes aren't done yet, they've punched their ticket to the College Football Playoff and battle Clemson on December 28, 2019.

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